Dr. Saturday

Colorado players held at gunpoint by 10 police officers after flashing an Airsoft pellet gun

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

One player is no longer with the program and two others were suspended after they were involved in an Airsoft pellet gun shootout that caused 10 Boulder police to descend, draw their weapons and hold eight players at gunpoint early Saturday morning.

Officers responded after witnesses said they saw two cars with eight football players racing down the road and pointing guns at each other. Little did the witnesses — and ultimately the police — know that the guns were Airsoft pellet guns and not real guns. So, the initial police, who were waved down by the witness, called for backup and after pulling the two cars over, 10 police stood at the ready with their guns drawn as they yelled for all eight players to get out of their cars.

Police said several of the men in the cars became immediately antagonistic with officers as they were ordered out of the vehicles at gunpoint. Officers said [receiver DaVaughn] Thornton told officers, "Go ahead! Shoot me, mother (expletive)," "I can go wherever the (expletive) I want," and, "This is Boulder and you have your guns out?"

When the men were told about a report of a gun in the car, [linebacker Jermaine] Clark told officers, "Yeah, but it's a BB gun," according to the report. Officers reported finding a black Airsoft pistol in the front seat that police said was labeled as and had the appearance of an authentic Walther P99, a semi-automatic pistol.

The men said they were just playing around with the gun and that they all knew each other. An officer disassembled the gun before returning it to Clark.

Coach Jon Embree said Clark was "no longer with the program," which stemmed from a combination of the incident and family issues. Receivers Jeffrey Thomas and DaVaughn Thornton were suspended for games against Colorado State and Sacramento State. Other players in the car included cornerback Jered Bell, receiver Keenan Canty, defensive back Joshua Moten, and linebackers Paul Vigo and Derrick Webb.

According to CU officials, the other players in the cars were not disciplined because they were just getting rides home.

While players may have thought Boulder police overreacted to the threat of a pellet gun, the entire state of Colorado has been on high alert after the Aurora movie theater massacre that occurred just about 35 miles from the Colorado campus. That shooting left 12 dead and more than 50 wounded after a gunman opened fire during a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises."

"It was three guys making poor decisions," Embree said after Tuesday's practice. "For the most part, our players, with an exception here or there, have done a great job of trying to be the type of citizens that we want and that we want our fans to be proud of.

"I know no charges were filed and any of that, but at the end of the day, we don't behave that way. There is no gray area when you behave like those guys behaved. They've been punished appropriately."

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